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Opinion: The Precarious Earth

People are currently driving the planet on a crash course with global stability. Something must be done.

By | June 18, 2012

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, HEIKENWAELDER

Many leading science networks argue today that human activities are moving several of Earth’s sub-systems, such as the climate, outside the range of natural variability, and that human societies must change course and steer away from critical tipping points that may lead to, if surpassed, fundamental changes in ocean currents or weather patterns. It is widely agreed that this requires fundamental restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective planetary stewardship and earth system governance—global and local guidelines for preventing and mitigating environmental change and encouraging sustainable development. Business as usual is not an option.

Governments will meet this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. This is largest diplomatic gathering in this field in the last 10 years, and must become a stepping stone for major reforms.

Earlier this year, I and 31 leading governance experts laid out 7 building blocks of a new institutional framework for sustainable development. Our article, published this past March in Science, was based on a comprehensive assessment that we conducted in 2011 as members of the Earth System Governance Project, a 10-year social science–based research program.

First, we argue that the UN Environment Programme must be upgraded to a UN specialized agency for environmental protection along the lines of the World Health Organization or the International Labour Organization—that is, a strong environmental organization with a sizable role in agenda-setting, norm-develop­ment, compliance management, science assessment, and capacity-building.

Second, we call upon governments to strengthen the integration of sustainable development policies, from local to global levels, and in particular, to create within the UN system a high-level UN Sustainable Development Council directly under the UN General Assembly. This council can help to further integrate economic, social, and environmental policies in the UN system, in a way that existing institutions cannot deliver.

Third, we argue that important regulatory gaps must be urgently closed through new institutions, such as framework conventions. One such area is the governance of new and potentially risky technologies, such as nanotechnology or geoengineering.

Fourth, we propose to make environmental goals more prevalent in global trade, investment, and finance regimes so that the activities of these sectors work towards these goals, and not against them.

Fifth, we argue for a stronger reliance on qualified majority voting to speed up international norm-setting. Most environmental treaties today require the consensus of all their members for any decisions, which inevitably ties these decisions to the preferences of the least ambitious governments. Consensus-based decision-making must be hence be urgently replaced by a wider usage of qualified majority voting.

Sixth, we call for new mechanisms to give civil society organizations more meaningful roles in global governance, for example in the form of separate chambers with clearly defined rights and responsibilities. This is important to improve the accountability and legitimacy of international decision-making.

Seventh, we argue that strong financial support of poorer countries remains essential, and requires new efforts by richer countries.

Overall, our research indicates that we need a major transformative shift in governance, similar to the transformation that the founding of the UN and its specialized agencies brought about after 1945. We call this the need for a “constitutional moment” in world politics and global governance. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio this week must be a first step to set out a roadmap for this fundamental change.

Frank Biermann is professor and head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies, VU Amsterdam, and visiting professor at Lund University. He is also the general director of the Netherlands Research School for Socio-economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) and chair of the Earth System Governance Project, a 10-year research effort under the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change.

Read more about his thoughts on the need for earth system governance reform in F. Biermann et al., “Navigating the Anthropocene: Improving Earth System Governance”, Science, 335, 1306-07, 2012.

 

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Avatar of: Perry Willis

Perry Willis

Posts: 1

June 18, 2012

Sorry, I no longer buy these arguments. Instead, I find the extended argument made by Matt Ridley in "The Rational Optimist" much more convincing. http://amzn.to/LgzWKV

Avatar of: howarddoughty

howarddoughty

Posts: 11

June 18, 2012

I heartily endorse every point the author makes, just as I heartily endorsed the scientists and activists who got together in places like Copenhagen, Kyoto and Rio de Janeiro ... and the people who founded Greenpeace ... and everyone from Gregory Bateson to the Meadows to Rachel Carson and all the way back to the literary critic Kenneth Burke who urged us all to pay attention to a novel little fellow called "Ecology" which, he predicted in about 1935, was destined to become one of the most important sciences.

To date, little progress has been made in persuading whole populations or particular politicians to put their "lifestyles" and electoral prospects on the line. This is largely because of the dominance of corporatism and what some hopefully call "late capitalism."

What environmentalists need to understand is that there is an ecology of ecologies, by which I mean that there are interconnected systems of economics, politics, cultures and ideologies as well as the natural world. So, the degradation of the environment cannot be understood as a "scientific" question alone, nor can practical measures be undertaken to relieve the pressure on the Earth without a clear understanding that most governments and most private sector firms are at least sceptical about (and generally hostile to) any regulations and controls put on growth in general and their favoured industries.

The upshot is that abundant evidence and rational discussion are insufficient to change power relations. Environmental issues are truly the overarching questions, for without urgent solutions to potentially catastrophic conditions there will be no Earth capable of sustain human life and all the subsidiary matters about human rights, poverty, war and the fate of the Kardashians will be moot; but, to address those issues, a broad and effective coalition must be established and energized to embrace ecological issues, just as environmentalists must learn that increasing economic injustice will preclude efforts to deal with toxic practices in all their forms.

Ultimately, environmentalists must get political, if they (and we and everybody else) are to survive, much less to flourish.

Avatar of: PassiveSolar

PassiveSolar

Posts: 2

June 18, 2012

32 years ago my lady and I designed and built a passive solar house on 70 acres of land contract property we purchased by working for the money.  We saved up by not buying a lot of ostentatious consumer junk we didn't need anyway and Jimmy Carter gave us tax breaks on the house. 

We went to college (not in computers) and designed a computer business to run out of the house over the phone so we wouldn't have to drive much to make a living and built our own recreation trails for X-skiing, mountain biking, walking, etc. so we didn't drive much for recreation and exercise either.  We had no children, accidental or otherwise, so didn't add to population growth.  We avoided excessive drinking, etc., lived healthily, cut and burned firewood and made good friends.

We, and friends, have lived frugal, self supporting and low impact lives by deciding to, designing them and then following through.  Relying on government, society, gods or any other outside agencies will only slow us down. I do thank Jimmy Carter but we'd have done it anyway and were well on the way before his term. 

So, just do it.  Do we have to pass a law for you?  Grow up and be responsible for your own life by reducing your own impacts and living your own plan.  Make a prediction and bet your life instead of living someone Else's and betting on that.  Writing and talking only go so far.  We've lived it and it's been a lot of fun.  Work has become play and play has become our lives.

Thanks from me to my bright, loving, caring and experienced partner and to our bright, caring friends.  Now I've come down with MS and epilepsy but feel safest and sanest out here where we have more control of what happens every day and feel good about it and glad of it.  Consumer culture is optional and avoidable.  "Drop out!"

June 18, 2012

The invisible monster in the room is global predatory capitalism (there is no other kind, despite hoped-for-but-unachievable "green capitalism"). Capitalism is the opposite of sustainability. Capitalism is toxic, psychotic and will kill the planet without blinking. The people of the earth obviously do not want this, but the internal logic of neoliberal, imperial/global capital does not represent the interests of the world's people and the other-than-human world.

Sorry if this sounds too radical or upsetting, but it all seems so obvious.

Avatar of: glenn398

glenn398

Posts: 15

June 18, 2012

 Guess we could go back to the horse and buggy, have you purchased yours yet? If you remember in New York the horse shit was getting so bad there was no place left to get rid of it. The auto came along just in time.

June 18, 2012

Funny you should mention it. Actually I am seriously thinking of getting a horse and buggy. I moved out of the US with my handicapped wife to rural Central America where a horse and buggy would do well when gasoline is $20.00 a gallon.  The manure is easily reused for fertilizer.

The passing of a terminally-ill economic system does not mean going back to the Paleolithic.

Avatar of: Peter L Borst

Peter L Borst

Posts: 1

June 18, 2012

You write:
> human activities are moving several of Earth’s sub-systems, such as the climate, outside the range of natural variability

This is predicated on a full knowledge of the "range of natural variability" -- which we do not have; and that we could ever operate "outside the range" -- which in all seriousness, we cannot do. We are bound by the laws of physics and nature, and cannot operate outside of them.

Peter Loring Borst
Ithaca, NY USA

Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 66

June 18, 2012

You are being pseudo-pedantic in order to split hairs to avoid the obvious, although I grant that Mr. Bierman's words can be assailed. You know exactly what he means.  Implicit in your post is support for accepting global nuclear war, since that too is "within within the laws of physics and nature." Likewise, spraying anthrax spores by the megaton over New York City is "within the laws of physics and nature." In other words sophistry in the guise of learned words.

The range of natural variability in the case of climate that he refers to is the range of temperatures that the world has seen over the last 10,000 years. It is the range that humanity has lived in for the entire development of civilization. It is a poor choice of words perhaps. I could support restating that as "outside the bounds in which civilization developed."

If we go back 50,000 years the planet was in an ice age which began to end 16,000 years ago. Humans probably witnessed the draining of Lake Agassiz. If we go back 100,000 years, it was more like today.

Going way back, sea levels haved fluctuated widely, 100 million years ago the midwest was part of the ocean.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo... 

One can assail Bierman's words on technicalities, but that is cold comfort. The fact remains that we are making massive changes to our world - massive in human terms. So far, warming estimates have been low and so have melt-rate estimates. We are probably going to see 3 feet of sea level rise by 2100 and well might see more. We are already seeing methan clathrates rising to the ocean's surface, melting and evaporating.

Our children's children's children will curse our names. I suggest you raise an obelisk in stone on a mountain to inform them of your thoughts.

Avatar of: olmstedhomested

olmstedhomested

Posts: 4

June 18, 2012

It's difficult to pick where to begin... there is so much non-science, redundant verbage, double meaning vocabulary on and on. Mr Biermann should wake up and smell the coffee. Al Gore and his type have been proven wrong and long time ago. Get another cause for the week; this one is long over.

Avatar of: KD

KD

Posts: 1457

June 18, 2012

When was Al Gore proven wrong about global warming?  He did plenty of silly things and looks foolish in the rest of his life but Al Gore never was the source of information on global warming.

Avatar of: Lessofthesame

Lessofthesame

Posts: 3

June 18, 2012

Without understanding the inherent stability of earth's climate (and it must be stable since it has been so similar in the past despite wide changes in the distribution of continents, CO2 etc) I find this sort of argument valueless. It is just as valid to say we must not do anything that might displease God. By all means, lets preserve resources but not because we will be punished by acts of God.

Avatar of: David Hill

David Hill

Posts: 1457

June 18, 2012

It sounds like a 'politically impossible bureaucratic dream'.  Unless someone can figure out the politics (and fairness) of human reproduction, migration, and resource utilization (in that order), we are doomed, just like a bacterial colony in a Petri dish.  Look at the growth of urban centers and factory farming in North America, and the continued push of government at all levels in the United States for more growth.  In the United States this demand for GNP growth to push out unfunded government obligations, and drive short-term profits for all who participate or influence government, continues to drive the cart.  Do we have any goals even remotely related to stability and sustainability of our systems, or are we just watching as technology and human behavior take us to a more or less inevitable destination?  Here we seem to be more interested in what amounts to a 'winner take all' lottery, and a rigged one at that.

Avatar of: glenn398

glenn398

Posts: 15

June 18, 2012

The first big mistake is to say the UN be involved as it has proved to be the most worthless origination ever. Yes it was great in 1945 and has went downhill since and all it is today is a few fat cats sucking the money away from any good cause. The real problem for the earth is over population and unless that is addressed any other avenue will totally fail. 

Avatar of: MAGS01

MAGS01

Posts: 25

June 18, 2012

No question that something needs to be done in order to prevent climate deterioration.  However, if we ask the person who is struggling to find food or housing to take care of his/her family, climate change is clearly not a priority.  Maybe a parallel focus on improving society welfare as a whole may have a larger impact.

Avatar of: Joe McDermott

Joe McDermott

Posts: 1

June 18, 2012

As a great man said, "Give me liberty or give me death."  I shan't cede control over my life and liberty to technocrats who presume to know better than I how I should live and pursue happiness.  I don't know if the author and his supporters here envision how the world might look when they get their way, but it seems to me a dreary and non-aspirational place.  You might ask yourselves, before you strip the world of any semblance of liberty and property rights, exactly who wants to live in such a place?  Maybe academics and scientists who reach not for the stars but for the caves.  People will continue to pursue material well-being for themselves and their loved ones.  Despite the braying of the current tenant in the White House, the United States will not willingly abandon the capitalist and libertarian project.  And if it comes to a shooting war, my money's on the greedy, egotistical, hopelessly uncouth capitalists and individualists.  History has proven them tougher than Cassandras.

A scientist worthy of the term would be looking for ways we can have what people want -- cars, planes, growing population, growing (horizontally please, humans are not bees) cities, and material wealth -- and meet the environmental challenges; the author's point of view ultimately reflects a lack of vision and courage.

And "social science" is an oxymoron.

Avatar of: alexandru

alexandru

Posts: 1457

June 18, 2012

Thank you THE SCIENTIST for "the skilful debaters of this world"! (Paul, 1Corinthians 1.20-21)

"What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? ... Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God. " (Stephen Hawking - A
Brief History of Time, From Big Bang to Black Holes)

As a statistician, I try to integrate the goals proposed into this article and the reader's solutions:

-Goals : 1. environmental protection, 2. sustainable development, 3. framework conventions, 4. environmental goals, 5. international norm-setting, 6. international decision, 7. new efforts by richer countries

-Stephen Duplantier      - invisible monster = global predatory capitalism
                                     - does not mean going back to the Paleolithic
-glenn398         - auto came along just in time; the real problem for the earth is over population
-Lessofthesame - lets preserve resources but not because we will be punished by acts of God
-olmstedhomested - wake up and smell the coffee
-KD - Al Gore never was the source of information on global warming
-Peter L Borst  - We are bound by the laws of physics and
nature, and cannot operate outside of them.
-Joe McDermott - it seems to me a dreary; US will not willingly abandon the
capitalist and libertarian project; "social science" is an oxymoron
-MAGS01 - the person who is struggling to find food or housing to take care of his/her family, climate change is clearly not a priority
-David Hill - 'politically impossible bureaucratic dream'
-howarddoughty - "late capitalism"; sceptical about (and generally hostile to) any regulations and controls put on growth; the upshot is that abundant evidence and rational discussion are insufficient to change power relations; a broad and effective coalition must be established and energized to embrace ecological issues; to survive, much less to flourish
-Passive Solar  - Consumer culture is optional and avoidable. "Drop out!"

Conclusion: NON CONSENS

"I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create." (William Blake)

I salute great scientific minds and great planners of life on earth on futuristic expectations, because the Science is the seventh divine candle, called "The Spirit of the Truth", "and will tell you of things to come". (see Solomon, Proverbs 1.22; 25.2, John 16.13 and Revelation 3. 14-22).

Nature cannot live on our terms and the Earth Microbiome act sometimes contrary our action.

Why?

Because it is true that "the people in power do not willingly abandon the consumer culture capitalism and libertarian project" and Earth Microbiome react not anytime according to our rationality.

In 2005, Eugen Simion, The President of the Romanian Academy, during a conference put the question: "Does the Religion can bring the information that cannot be obtained by rationality?"

"The significance and joy in my science comes in the occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, 'So that's how God did it!' My goal is to understand a little corner of God's plan." (Henry Schaefer - U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 23, 1991)

In 2007, according to Luke 8.11; Paul, 2 Corinthians 3.3 and Paul, Hebrew 4.12, I discovered the God capacity to write words on the human DNA and I developed the Assisted Evolutionary Creation, firstly by God and than by man (see also Daniel 7.2-4 and Paul, 1.Corinthians 15.45-47)

How Earth Microbiome react?

"That the Lord will go here; and before him shall be abruptness squall that will cleave mountains and will shatter cliffs, but the Lord will not be squall; after squall will be earthquake, but the Lord will not be in the earthquake; after the earthquake will be fire, but the Lord there will be no fire. And after the fire will be the breeze softly and there will be the Lord." (Eli'jah, 3 book of Kings 19.11-12)

*When the people heard this, they said: 'Surely not!'* (Luke 20.16)

"Nor does the Father himself judge anyone. He has given his Sun the full right to judge." (John 5.22)

As the suns of God, we need to understand the Nature in the purpose to be careful and give room for Nature to provide the feedback answers for our lives for we have to learn to adapt to live "naturally" with Nature.
According to my interpretation, in Revelation (chapter 4) is predicted the negotiation of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism. Hinduism, Islamism, Orthodoxies and Science.
 
Because actual capitalism is based on speculating opportunity without take care to fellow and to the consequences (the main principle of Evolution), I suppose that the "late capitalism" will be "Christian Capitalism"!
See the crises and he solution predicted by Daniel in chapter 12.

Avatar of: Franklin Moore

Franklin Moore

Posts: 1457

June 19, 2012

It is socialism, the opposite of true Capitalism, that is the toxic psychotic system. In deed, the partial capitalism that permeates our culture today dose not respect property in full and is in many cases socialism in disguise. True Capitalism is the only societal mechanism that can protect property of the individual and thus society totally. Advocating the theft of property leads to nonproprietary use of the plunder which results in lack of stability that is needed for sustainability. 

June 19, 2012

So extreme "True Capitalism" (whatever that is? Ayn Randism?) and ultra private propertyism will solve the social and ecological problems of Earth on the brink of catastrophe?

Maybe you need to read a little more widely than seem to have done.

Avatar of: Franklin Moore

Franklin Moore

Posts: 1457

June 19, 2012

Rand recognized the problem but she was still a statist, consequently, she did not have a solution. However, she was closer to solving the decline of society than your friend Karl Marx. I recommend you read
Sic Itur ad Astra which is a transcription of an introductory course by the late astrophysicist Andrew J. Galambos. You will find a disclosure of a non coercive solution to the societal maelstrom perpetuated by socialism.

Avatar of: Len Banaszak

Len Banaszak

Posts: 6

June 19, 2012

First let's leave God out of this discussion.  Whatever he may be, he had nothing to do with the ecological changes experienced here on earth.  Second, let's find a way to stop wars!  They are not only major consumers of energy but also provide a divisive factor for any consensus on the cures for the developing environmental problems.  Third, let us silence the "nayers".  Every time they ask to express their views, let us demand data supporting every claim they want to express.  Fourth, let each and every one of us do something small to reverse the ongoing trends.  Drive one trip less, plant more, recycle, turn a not-in-use light off, conserve water resources and on and on ....!  A sustainable future is in the hands of all of us!

Avatar of: alexandru

alexandru

Posts: 1457

June 19, 2012

Who "provide a divisive factor for any consensus"?

In my opinion is the DIVISIVE EDUCATION.

If the SCIENCE will not be capable to demonstrate the combination between CREATION (integrating the concept of the grates religion) and EVOLUTION (scientific demonstrated) there will not be any consensus because SCIENCE is in WAR with the PERFECT MAN and NATURE.

The prevention is the mother of knowledge to harmonize Evolution!

The natural feedback is the missing information, and we have not time to wait God intervention, as the religion proposes, or to act irrationally, as politician and businessman do.

That is why I BELIEVE in the REAL NEGOTIATION between different concepts.
In addition, the negotiation shall be done with the BRAIN not be done with the GUN and I am waiting that man use the brain in his interest as mr. Frank Biermann propose us.

Mr. Len, please, tell me:

Who get back into the sperm of the naturally "born" boys, not in vitro "made", the paternal mitochondria at the puberty?
HOLLY SPIRIT, HAZARD or the PERFECT CREATION?

Sorry, but we cannot explain rationally without the help of the information delivered by grates religion.

Because the sperm mitochondria, that give sperm motility, are passed down via father I developed five years ago "the inheritance of father mitochondria theory" that GENETICALLY certify GENESIS! (see "Mitochondrial Adam DNA data transmission theory" - ISBN 978-606-92107-1-0, in addition to Eve mtDNA theory, - Adam mtDNA exist only in xiphoid process in combination with Eve mtDNA, like a husband and wife couple, and manage the spermatogenesis and oogenesis and are responsible for immunity, see the disease feedback in stem cells technology and other transplants, and control the heart pulls).

Stephen Hawking: "Science cannot predict the future of human or even if it has any future."

Why the scientist is afraid of God wisdom?

*EXPLORE - EDIFY - BELIEVE* is my concept.

To believe or not to believe!

To be or not to be!

Avatar of: dovhenis

dovhenis

Posts: 97

June 19, 2012

 (tags: naturalselection, politics, racism, scientism)

Decide, Humanity: Scientism Or Natural Selection
May 19, 2012
Humanity Must Decide: Scientism Or Natural Selectionhttp://www.sciencemag... http://news.sciencemag.org/sci... A doctrine and method characteristic of scientists, and the proposition that scientific doctrine and methods of studying natural sciences should be used in all areas of investigation and in conduct of politics-social-cultural-civil affairs in pursuit of an efficient practical, as fair as possible, civics framework.Natural Selection: All mass formats, inanimate and animate, follow natural selection, i.e. intake of energy or their energy taken in by other mass formats.All politics, local, national and international, are about evolutionary biology, about Darwinian evolution, about survival, about obtaining and maintaining and distributing energy.Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)Universe-Energy-Mass-Life Compilationhttp://universe-lif... A Scientism Culturehttp://universe-life.co...

Avatar of: Elizabeth Van Horn

Elizabeth Van Horn

Posts: 1457

June 19, 2012

Duplantier:  Capitalism is the key to everything!   It's the only way that positive change will happen.  Industrial Revolution coupled with Capitalism is what has raised the health and wealth of the entire world's human population.   It is the single factor that has a real chance of changing every game, including environmental issues.  Here's an example of how the industrial age and Capitalism has raised the standard of living for the last 200 years:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Capitalism is positive, healthy and the only system that I trust, because it's *the* one that has created the tools for me, you and everybody posting here to be doing exactly this.  (on the internet with computers exchanging ideas)  Without Capitalism we would all be living a feudal existence with life spans topping out at age 40. 

Oh, and I live in Indiana where we have a sizable Amish population, so
horse and buggies are not some strange item.  Incidentally, the Amish here create little negative environmental impact, and they also
are Capitalists and acquire wealth.  There is a lot of land and large farms
owned by Amish families here.  So, of course there can be "green
Capitalism", it already exists. 

Avatar of: Elizabeth Van Horn

Elizabeth Van Horn

Posts: 1457

June 19, 2012

 Interesting Forbes on Climate change:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/pe...

June 19, 2012

Good point. In the past the church would take money from the poor suckers to reduce their time in punishment. Now they want to force people to fast change  the energy sources (with immense waste of resources) without any serious evidence. We NEED CO2, it is scarce as Freeman Dyson explained: all within a meter above the soil will be consumed in 5 minutes by a cornfield at midday... Oxygen, a life gas, accumulate to 20% in the atmosphere (and was made by the CO2 users billions of years ago) while CO2 is a mere 0,039% after we increased it. It is the primary life gas and eco-radicals call it "pollution"... During the Jurassic dinosaur era CO2 was 5-10 times more abundant, no "tipping point" was activated, vegetation was luxuriant, animals were gigantic and no man, no industries. Let's wake up and turn a deaf ear to these guys. Pollution is something else: particulates, N and S oxides, CO, excess chemical runoff, garbage out of containment. All of this we can manage with our science, technology and political action. Forget CO2! Out with environmentalism as a religion.

Avatar of: glenn398

glenn398

Posts: 15

June 19, 2012

 Gore invested heavily to make money out of his global warming while at the same time wasting energy like no tomorrow. I love all these type while crying everyone should save energy the ride around in huge limousines, have several huge houses with heated swimming pools and fly around in their private jets. So saving energy is for everyone else not the elite. Am tried of these type of people that think the rest of us are fools at their disposal.  

Avatar of: agelbert

agelbert

Posts: 50

June 19, 2012

I agree. The problem is the sick love affair with the resource extraction paradigm. The world view of man and nature as a master-slave relationship must change to view mankind as a function of (as in mathematics) the biosphere and NOT its master. As self aware beings, our responsibility is to be a wise gardener that recognizes that we are one the 'plants' in that garden.

Why? because we have the ability as self aware beings to bypass instinct programming and mess up nature. We sure have. It's bio-remediation time. Nature is not going to give an inch on this one.

An excellent book that describes the folly of mankind's irresponsible industrialization for profit without regard to environmental costs is Techno-Fix.

Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment (9780865717046): Michael Huesemann, Joyce Huesemanns.

The reductionist ad absurdio tools like glenn398 that immediately try to accuse us of wanting to return to the 'bad old days' (as if we weren't facing the worst crisis in the history of mankind) are apparently too propagandized to be anything but subjects for criminal prosecution when an internationally agreed acceptable carbon footprint is exceeded.

The place to start is with the military and their earth killing machinery. We can work our way done to the glenn398s of this world after that.

June 19, 2012

How do we get ahead of the hyper testosterone-ized dudes in uniforms with short haircuts and a lot of very expensive weapons I do not know.   Here is a take-down of "Rio20:"
Rio+20Posted: 19 Jun 2012 02:43 AM PDTFiddling While the Earth Burns…by Jennifer Browdy de HernandezI am having trouble summoning any enthusiasm over the upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference, which will begin on June 20.When you go to the conference website, everything sounds so benign, forward-looking and responsible.  For example, talking about food security, the conference framers call for the promulgation of sustainable agriculture, meaning “the capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound.â€쳌It sounds marvelous. But we all know that during the last 20 years, since the first Earth Summit in 1992, industrial agriculture has only gotten bigger and badder, more focused on profit at the expense of social responsibility or environmental stewardship.Food security for the majority of people on the planet has become a pipe dream, and even the most privileged of us are growing increasingly vulnerable to disruptions in food supplies caused by climate change, monoculture and the superweeds and superbugs that have developed resistance to our chemicals.I was not surprised to find in my inbox this morning an eloquent position paper from La Via Campesina, seeing right through the rosy language of the “sustainable developmentâ€쳌 engineers to recognize that “beneath the deceptive and badly intentioned term “green economyâ€쳌, new forms of environmental contamination and destruction are now rolled out along with new waves of privatization, monopolization, and expulsion from our lands and territories.â€쳌Here is how La Via Campesina, which represents indigenous and peasant farmers worldwide, but particularly in South America, sees the “green economyâ€쳌:“The green economy does not seek to reduce climate change or environmental deterioration, but to generalize the principle that those who have money can continue polluting. Up to now, they have used the farce of purchasing carbon bonds to continue emitting greenhouse gases. They are now inventing biodiversity bonds. This is to say, businesses can continue destroying forests and ecosystems, as long as they pay someone to supposedly conserve biodiversity somewhere else. Tomorrow they may invent bonds for water, natural ‘views’, or clean air.â€쳌I am afraid that this analysis is right on target.  The whole premise of the REDD agreements, under which communities were to be paid for conserving their forests, has only resulted in a land rush to purchase the forests so as to collect the international funding.  And to add insult to injury, REDD has allowed the destruction of virgin forests and replanting of, say, palm oil plantations, to “countâ€쳌 as forest conservation.So the international capitalists make out like bandits, and the local people who have lived peacefully and harmoniously in the forests for thousands of years suddenly find themselves given the boot.In the first anthology I edited, Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean (South End Press, 2004), I included an essay by Rigoberta Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Guatemala, who has become a major voice for global indigenous rights and environmental stewardship.  The essay describes Menchu’s unofficial visit to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.“I had gone to find out what their idea of the earth, plants and nature might be, and what I found was a commercial version of ecology,â€쳌 she said.  “There were T-shirts with tigers, lions and parrots painted on them, and plastic bags with animals’ faces.  It was a case of businessmen making money out of the environment.â€쳌Although Menchu ended on a more hopeful note back in the ’90s when this essay was first published, I have no doubt that today she is less optimistic, given the way events have played out over the past 20 years.  It is no exaggeration to say that the capitalist assault on the natural world combined with the human population overload of the planet has brought us to the brink of civilization collapse.The calm, rationalist language of the Rio+20 architects reveals no sign of awareness of the dire state of the planet.  They seem to have constructed their conference materials in an air-conditioned bubble, through which the voices of the billions of ordinary people on the ground cannot penetrate.La Via Campesina is calling for a return to small-scale agriculture as the solution to the Earth’s problems. They argue that a relocalization of agriculture is necessary, with indigenous and peasant farmers given cooperative control over their lands, as it was for the thousands of years preceding our own unfortunate era.We will never get the diplomats, technocrats and financial oligarchs in the air-conditioned conference halls to agree to such a simple, unprofitable solution to food security.But the feedback loops that have made our planet stable since the last Ice Age are now becoming severely disrupted, and so Earth may take matters into her own hands, forcing a relocalization in which only those who still remember how to subsist in small groups close to the land will be able to survive.Is this the great transition prophesied by the Mayans long ago?  The end of the age of technocratic capitalism, and the return to a simpler way of life?Global meetings such as Rio+20 should be occasions for making plans, together with the small-scale farmers on the ground all over the world, for intelligent transitions to truly sustainable communities. There is still time to prepare for the coming ecological shocks so as to prevent mass misery.Instead, governments are using this precious time to build up armies and police forces to ensure the control of ever-shrinking resources by the wealthy, and selling small-scale arms to local gangs to encourage violence and terror outside of the gated communities of the rich nations.This is a strategy that keeps us all in line — we in the wealthy nations are terrified by the violence we see outside our borders, and so we docilely do as we are told, which is to say, continue to participate in the aggressive policies that are bringing us all to ruin.I see the twin monsters of the weapons and the chemical industries as the most destructive forces on our planet today.  If these two industries could be stopped, and their destructive products destroyed, imagine what a different world we’d be living in.We may not be able to put those evil genies back into the bottle ourselves.  But the planet will take care of it, sooner or later.Right now, it’s looking like it’s going to be soon.Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Ph.D., teaches comparative literature, media studies, and human rights with an activist bent at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and directs the annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and the new Citizen Journalism Project at WBCR-LP. She is a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision, and blogs at Transition Times.

Avatar of: clazy8

clazy8

Posts: 4

June 21, 2012

 It seems your capacity to reason is as poor as Stephen's: no one "accused" him of wanting to return to the bad old days. If glenn398 accused him of anything, it was of failing to consider what the world would look like without capitalism. It now seems quite clear that glenn398 was right. As for your own contribution -- well. Anyone who thinks we are "facing the worst crisis in the history of mankind" knows very little about the history of mankind.

Avatar of: clazy8

clazy8

Posts: 4

June 21, 2012

 Trying to be nice? Not trying very hard. You've put much more effort into avoiding the issue. That you should resort to name-calling suggests you know it, too.

Avatar of: DopamineProject.org

DopamineProject.org

Posts: 1457

June 21, 2012

Nothing will be done because nobody wants to get to the root cause of the problems responsible for the instability.

Our primitive ancestors grew increasingly addicted to the dopamine-induced survival behaviors Homo sapiens share with chimpanzees (and Abraham Maslow identified as deficiency needs for food, sex, safety/power, acceptance/approval/attention, esteem/status). Our more recent ancestors added addictions to drugs, gambling, and money, then passed down their addiction, along with the self-deceptions and denials that make it possible to pretend that some of the most destructive addictions (e.g. to money and power) are normal, acceptable, and even admirable behaviors.

Researchers have already established that food, sex, gambling, and (recently) power trigger the same dopamine that junkies trigger with heroin. It’s only a question of time until more courageous researchers add safety/power, acceptance/approval/attention, esteem/status, and money to the list of addictions.

Then again, as long as the money/power addicts control the institutions that determine what behaviors are and aren’t addictions it’s possible that we’ll just continue complaining about being a crash course with global stability instead of being honest about the causes.

Avatar of: Chadl

Chadl

Posts: 1457

June 21, 2012

It is no surprise that challenging people like Stephen would lead to insults but If you want to embark on insults all I will say is the world is full of sheep like you who profess socialistic ideals as the solution to environmental woes.. It is a broken record in history. Franklin Moore understands the truth in capitalism and the typical lie that capitalism is some evil unbound force that will destroy the world. People decide how capitalism works.. Corporations don't make money on things people don't want or if they are engaged in morally unacceptable practice. People today want electric vehicles and such things are being brought to you by "capitalism!" ie Tesla, Nissan, GM.. No government run agency will be making technologically advanced consumer products.  Many corporations these days know people are savvy about the "green" mindset and know they have to appease people by showing they are responsible or guess what? No profit..  Why don't you eliminate your PC so you don't continue to live a hypocritical life? You are the exact type of evil Ayn Rand warns about...    

Avatar of: Henry K. Barton

Henry K. Barton

Posts: 1457

June 22, 2012

It is very hard to engage worldwide people in ways to protect the environment and conserve natural resources. Earth's natural resources should not be exhausted; this selfish capitalist people should be stopped to let our beloved Earth in peace. The Moon's lunar soil is replete with helium-3 reserves, due to the solar wind. A fusion-powered spacecraft fueled with proton-boron-11 can take us there to build  permanent Moonbase to mine helium-3 as a fuel supply for clean nuclear fusion power plants on Earth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Avatar of: Heber Rizzo

Heber Rizzo

Posts: 1457

June 22, 2012

A shift in governance, you say? 
Something like Mao Zedong cultural revolution, with 1 tenth of the population killed?
No, I think you would prefer Pol Pot style, one half dying of starvation and one quarter directly killed.
Of course, you would be inside the Nomenklatura, wouldn´t you?

Avatar of: melanchthon

melanchthon

Posts: 5

June 22, 2012

Given the past ice ages and tropic climates in the Northern Hemisphere of this earth, how anyone could give any credibility to a hypothesis that mankind's activity is responsible for climate change just astounds me.  I continue to morne the hi-jacking of science for people's political agendas.  Sad Sad Sad.

Avatar of: rick793

rick793

Posts: 1

June 22, 2012

It is sad, but, the world will not change the one's in charge corporations and government will not allow it to happen. Change must occur within people you want to watch corporations squirm then stop buying their goods, ie: oil, it is the only way and demand cleaner energy, but when there are fools that complain about wind farms then those are the type only think of themselves bitching about their property values, or there to noisy blah, blah, blah. Then I say oh well die then.

Avatar of: melanchthon

melanchthon

Posts: 5

June 22, 2012

There is nothing as toxic as more bureaucracy.  Another UN bureaucracy being the worst imaginable.
I am tired of hearing the sky is falling.  Given the history of our earth, its ice ages and tropical climates in the northern hemisphere, to suggest that mankind can manipulate climate through its actions is pathetic. 

Avatar of: Douglas Easton

Douglas Easton

Posts: 32

June 22, 2012

David has a point. As Pogo said:" We have met the enemy and they are us". In our struggles for a piece of the pie, we chop down the cherry tree. This is not a character reserved for the 1%, it is a fundamental human survival instinct which has turned against us. The only way to change the direction in which the global and local environments are headed is to harness our drive to survive to the real problems of sustainability.

It seems  real leadership and cooperative behavior is required. What I read here gives me little faith in this happening. As a skeptical person I give us a less than 50/50 chance of "getting it" before we pass an important tipping point. I don't have many years left but my children and grandchildren will have to deal with the consequences of our continually kicking the can down the road. 

June 24, 2012

There is a lot of
truth in what ELizabeth wrote. Capitalism is the name we gave to the natural
evolution of human societies in the direction of more individual liberty and
the rule of law. Capitalism isn't  a theory and wasn't invented by someone. It arose gradually
since the fall of feudalism, by artisans becaming independent. Latter with the
industrial revolution millions moved to factories while agriculture became more
efficient. Peter Drucker explained how Taylor defeated marxism in the West by
fostering a revolution in management that turned the once exploited workers to
bourgeois middle class. Left and right ideologies where creations of men that
dared to address, even "scientifically" as Marx tried, the complexity
of human societies to create a perfect and just world. We all know how that
ended by examining the times of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Pol Pot,
Franco, Salazar, etc. Capitalism can and should evolve to a more just and
stable  organization with a focus
on individual liberty, the rule of law and minimum centralized control. That
will unleash human creativity, the one and only "natural resource" as
the great Julian L. Simon taught us.

 

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